The Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT) announced 2012 was a record-breaking year for Costa Rica, with the country receiving over 2.34 million visitors, a 6.9% increase from 2011. In its report, the ICT explained that 66.26% of tourists (1.55 million) who entered the country in 2012 did so by air, which according to authorities, reflects the successful policies designed to increase routes and flights to the country.
According to official data from the Department of Immigration, in 2012 most visitors who entered Costa Rica by air came from North America (1.06 million), followed by almost 226.000 European tourists, 120.000 South Americans and 95.000 from Central America. The United States is still Costa Rica’s most important market for tourism, with 864.340 visitors in 2012. However, Allan Flores, Minister of Tourism, emphasized the importance of other markets such as Canada, which registered 136.261 arrivals, and Mexico with 61.921, representing a 27.5% increase from the previous year. This positive behavior, Flores explained, coincides with new flights from Mexico that were announced last year, such as Aeromexico, Avianca and Interjet, which opened new flights and nonstop service between Costa Rica and Mexico.
Tourism is one of the main economic activities in Costa Rica, generating over 2,000 million dollars in income. According to official estimates, the industry employs over 500,000 people, both directly and indirectly.